Narratives guide our lives in so many ways. They tell us to leap into our most dangerous roles, guide us in our most difficult tasks, but also keep us focused on our routine duties. Last week was full of those mundane meetings that it is fashionable to disparage as unnecessary, even annoying. During the pandemic lockdown, at least we could participate remotely while at home, muting our microphones when junior wandered in to ask where the milk was, and turning our cameras off when hubby ran through the bedroom after showering. On Wednesday afternoon I had two on-campus meetings: one about an annual report and the other about tweaking a questionnaire that we will redistribute to each department to measure organizational climate and effectiveness. You could dismiss these as routine tasks, but for me these meetings were quite revealing, fulfilling, even inspiring. They gave me an opportunity to reflect on how our college (and our entire state post-secondary education system) rose to the challenge of the COVID lockdown and delivered quality instruction under the most trying of circumstances.
One meeting was led by our director of distance education, and I was so proud to have been on her hiring committee and recognized her competence and energy. The other meeting was with the Office of Research and Planning, where I met with five from their team (and I had been in on most of their hirings). When I saw how their individual expertise had now meshed into such a high-functioning team, I felt a great achievement. I won’t be working in higher education for more than another decade at most, but I know that when my time is done, I have helped build something that will last beyond my life, or beyond people’s memories of me as a person. That is a very comforting narrative that gets me motivated to attend meetings, and comforts me as I envision my future, however short it may be.